Didier Reynders pleased with UN report on circumstances of chemical attack in Syria

date: 17 September 2013

Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders is pleased with the United Nations report describing the circumstances of the chemical attack in Syria on 21 August. Belgium has been asking since the very beginning for this report to be drawn up and published quickly.

This report proves that the hundreds of civilians - including many children - that were killed on 21 August were the victims of a chemical attack. The international community must draw political conclusions from the investigation and must bring those responsible for this war crime before the international criminal court. The information in this report leaves little doubt that the responsibility for this bloodbath lies with President Assad’s armed forces.

The priority now is to give form to the agreement of 14 September between Secretary of State John Kerry (USA) and Minister Sergey Lavrov (Russia). As a member of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Belgium wishes to contribute to this effort. Minister Reynders gave the Permanent Representative to the Council the task of reaching a decision as quickly as possible. This decision must set out the procedures for the rapid neutralisation of the entire Syrian chemical weapon arsenal and introduce a strict control system.

This decision must be reinforced by a UN Security Council resolution. To ensure the credibility of the decision, Belgium hopes that the Security Council can reach a binding resolution, preferably based on Chapter VII. The approval of a resolution is the best guarantee that pressure on the Syrian regime will continue. A resolution would also limit the risk of dissention within the Security Council.

In addition to this diplomatic course, Minister Reynders and his governmental colleagues are also looking at what contribution Belgium can make to the international disarmament initiative in Syria, since our country has technical knowledge in this regard.